"The primary purpose and objective of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute shall be the promotion of human knowledge within the field of the basic sciences and the effective application thereof for the benefit of mankind."
– Annual Report, HHMI charter

IBM ES/9000, VSE/ESA COBOL, Sybase
Medical research Small shop


The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) is a scientific and philanthropic organization whose principal purpose is biomedical research. HHMI investigators concentrate their research in five broad areas: cell biology and regulation, genetics, immunology, neuroscience, and structural biology. HHMI research teams have been able to introduce normal genes to correct the cystic fibrosis defect in human cells grown in the laboratory and have created a laboratory-tested vaccine for Lyme disease. HHMI also has awarded over $100 million in grants to support education in biomedical sciences.

Founded in 1953, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute is a nonprofit organization with 2,000 employees, including 200 in the Washington area.



HHMI's 22 computer professionals program in COBOL, on an IBM ES/9000, model 210, under VSE/ESA and use D&B Software's financial systems. They also have an AT&T Starlan network with 200 workstations. Sybase is used on the LAN. Other staff members use WordPerfect 5.1, LOTUS, and Paradox.

Computer professionals work in Operations, Application Systems, Office Systems, and Communications. Job titles include Operator, Production Control Coordinator, Programmer Analyst, Senior Programmer Analyst, Project Leader, System Programmer, Information Center Specialist, PC Workstation Specialist, LAN Administrator, Manager, and Director of Computer Services.

In an ongoing project, computer professionals are using PC-based Sybase to gather all purchasing data and analyze vendor pricing policies in order to get the best discount value when buying.


Everyone has a private office with a PC attached to the mainframe. The building is nonsmoking. Travel is less than 10 percent. Overtime varies; it is less than 10 percent and voluntary. HHMI believes in hiring overqualified people and offering exceptional benefits and working conditions.

HHMI observes 11 holidays. They offer 3 weeks of vacation to start, 4 weeks for years 2 through 8, and 5 weeks after 9 years. The company pays medical, disability, dental, and life insurance (two times the annual salary). Tuition is reimbursed. The company contributes to a tax-sheltered annuity (403c) for retirement, which is similar to a 401(k) plan. The subsidized dining room has three chefs, including a pastry chef.

HHMI has not had any layoffs and there is very little turnover.


HHMI looks for candidates with sound technical ability, which includes experience and education. They look for candidates who are outgoing, can write and speak easily to peers and management, and are able to teach. The average computer professional at HHMI has 5 to 8 years of experience and at least a Bachelor's degree.

HHMI does not hire entry-level computer professionals. New candidates are found through advertisements and employment agencies. They typically hire zero to one new employee a year.


Letters are preferred.

Human Resources Department

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

6701 Rockledge Drive

Bethesda, Maryland 20817

Copyright 1993. Vandamere Press. Covin’s Washington Area Computer Job Guide